Scheduled rest and recovery are just as important as any part of a training program. If you’re like me, it’s hard to actually plan days off and recovery activities to reduce fatigue and prevent Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). The body needs time to adapt to stresses put on muscles and joints in order to take an athlete to a higher level of fitness.
Tracking workouts with a fitness log is a great way to help track daily and weekly activities and determine your recovery needs. I like a simple log to track the date, activity, length or time, description of ride, such as weather and friends and how I felt. A cycling computer such as a Garmin can keep track of your workouts with charts for speed, elevation, heart rate, Cadence, temperature and power output. I have this technology now, but really loved my old basic “Runner’s World” training log. With the computer, I can download information to a website that will compare my ride segments with others in my area. It’s a great way to compete against yourself and do your very best (or compete against your friends)! What a boost to find that you have a “QOM or Queen of the Mountain” after finishing a hard training ride!
Recovery allows the body to repair damaged tissues and replenish energy stores. In the short-term (or active recovery) a cool-down after a hard effort and getting fluids and eating the right foods is just the ticket. For long-term recovery, sleep a is key factor as sleep deprivation can lead to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, reduced glycogen synthesis and decreased activity of human growth hormone (HGH). Including days off each week and perhaps a week at a time during the year helps limit the stress on the body that can lead to breaking down muscle and risking injury. This is a good time to modify workouts and change up your routine.
Getting out of a rut by cross-training with yoga, stretching swimming or going for a walk on a day off can be good for your body and your mind!